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Scholarships for Theology Students

By dcm266 in Op-Ed
Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 02:28:44 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

In the recent Supreme Court case of Locke v. Davey, Respondent Davey was awarded a Promise Scholarship, where he chose to enroll at Northwest College. When he enrolled, he chose a double major in pastoral ministries and business administration. He soon learned that the scholarship would not allow him to pursue the degree that he wished for, as the Washington state constitution forbids scholarships to be given to devotional theology students. As a result, Davey filed suit, heard the district court dismiss his case, heard the United States Court of Appeals reverse the ruling in question, and finally had his hopes crushed by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that there was nothing wrong with Washington's refusal to allow scholarships for devotional theology students.

The entire slip opinion of the court can be found here, and examined for further detail.


What seems to exist here, is a case of discrimination against religion. Though the arguments of the majority are understandable, the dissent by Antonin Scalia is the most logical approach to the problem.

"In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520 (1993), the majority opinion held that "[a] law burdening religious practice that is not neutral . . . must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny," id., at 546, and that "the minimum requirement of neutrality is that a law not discriminate on its face," id., at 533."

A law must not discriminate on its face. That seems simple enough. It also seems clear that the Washington law discriminates against religion. The scholarship could be used for business studies, the humanities, social sciences, physical or natural sciences, pre-legal studies, and so forth. The only thing that is forbidden is religion. This does not seem to be a case where the government would be in danger of violating the establishment clause, as a scholarship awarded to a student of devotional theology would still be religion neutral.

The student receiving the scholarship would simply be choosing to major in a devotional theological field, as opposed to any other major, which he also could have pursued with the scholarship. In fact, Davey was a double major in business administration as well. Justice Scalia continues to say.

"When the State makes a public benefit generally avail-able, that benefit becomes part of the baseline against which burdens on religion are measured; and when the State withholds that benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the Free Exercise Clause no less than if it had imposed a special tax."

Had Davey chosen to study anything else, his scholarship would have been granted in full. Only because he was interested in pastoral ministries was he forbidden access to the scholarship that he would have had under all other circumstances. Justice Scalia states the following point.

"No field of study but religion is singled out for disfavor in this fashion. Davey is not asking for a special benefit to which others are not entitled. Cf. Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Assn., 485 U. S. 439, 453 (1988). He seeks only equal treatment--the right to direct his schol-arship to his chosen course of study, a right every other Promise Scholar enjoys."

Scalia goes on to point out that this is not an apt comparison to prior cases involving taxpayer funds to support church leaders or programs, because the scholarship is generally available to everyone, and if devotional theology students were allowed to receive it, it would not be showing them special favor, but merely including them in the benefits otherwise given to other citizens of the state.

This seems a tragic act of discrimination against religion. The Supreme Court seems suprisingly unwillingly to rectify this obvious wrong, as evidenced by the strong majority that supported the position of the State of Washington. There seems to be no fathomable justification for the restriction against students of theology. This is not a case of the court being unwilling to be activist in challenging laws they see as unjust, as the Supreme Court makes a habit of intervention via judicial activism. Rather, this is a case where a wrong has been done, and no attempt is made to rectify it. In this case, the Supreme Court seems to have erred severely.


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Related Links
o http://www .supremecourtus.gov/opinions/03pdf/02-1315.pdf
o Also by dcm266

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Scholarships for Theology Students | 171 comments (147 topical, 24 editorial, 1 hidden)
religion is a very personal matter... (2.50 / 6) (#3)
by sye on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 02:39:42 PM EST

i am against any means to allow the growth of future ministry be dependent upon state power or state money or state tax dollars.

commentary - For a better sye@K5
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rubbing u ~~> ~procrasti: getaway to HE'LL
Hey! at least he was in a stable relationship. - procrasti
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Northwest College (2.50 / 6) (#7)
by TheWake on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 02:57:30 PM EST

Then they should not give scholarship money to anyone attending Northwest College since the mission of the school is to:
The mission of Northwest College is to provide, in a distinctly evangelical Christian environment, quality education to prepare students for service and leadership.

The college experience should develop the whole person through general studies integrated with biblical knowledge; include professional and vocational skills in the student's preparation for service in the world; help to fulfill the Great Commission and to propagate the historic faith of the sponsoring church.

(http://www.nwcollege.edu/about/vision.html). So every student they send is essentially expanding the ministry of the sponsoring church. If the state lets the scholarship pay for this particular institution, the state should not disallow the scholarship based on picking a theology major.

[ Parent ]
you are absolutely right (none / 2) (#8)
by sye on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 03:07:03 PM EST

when state money gets out of the way, God's grace shall descend and bear fruit from people they serve.

commentary - For a better sye@K5
ripple me ~~> ~allthingsgo: gateway to Garden of Perfect Brightess in CNY/BTC/LTC/DRK
rubbing u ~~> ~procrasti: getaway to HE'LL
Hey! at least he was in a stable relationship. - procrasti
enter K5 via Blastar.in
[ Parent ]

1st ammendment (2.00 / 15) (#4)
by TheWake on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 02:48:08 PM EST

The first ammedment to the US Constitution is now being interpreted as having a "freedom from religion" clause not a "freedom of religion" clause. The horror of it all is the original founding of some colonies was freedom from religious persecution. I think the mindset of the US in regard to this issue needs to move closer to "embrace all religions" than the current model of "avoid all religions". The US has always had an implied expectation of some religion from its citizenry, but would allow the individual to make the choice as to which religion. The US was founded on tolerance and acceptance not exclusion, the SC should understand such matters and act accordingly.

bah... (none / 0) (#169)
by Danse on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:47:12 AM EST

Freedom of religion is just fine. Just don't expect the taxpayers to support it. That means through scholarships, grants, subsidies, etc. For the state to support such things would be supporting religion, and almost certainly supporting one or more religions over others, unless they want to award the same amount of money to every religion each year, which I doubt.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Doesn't seem that wrong to me (2.77 / 9) (#6)
by Verbophobe on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 02:55:51 PM EST

Remember that he wants to study in "devotional" religion.  Had he wanted to persue a degree in Christian Theology, the government would've had no qualms with that.  Morever, "devotional religion" isn't exactly an academic topic.

In fact, it could be argued that the state funding the furtherment of ANY devotional religion would be bad, simply because there is a separation between church and state.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration

heh (none / 2) (#12)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 03:51:37 PM EST

The delicious irony of this is that with a devotional degree, he's more likely to be a priest, but the Christian Theology degree doesn't imply that nearly as much.

So, here we have it: the government is willing to fund degrees with dubious productive worth, but unwilling to fund a degree that more obviously leads to a job.

I do, however, agree with the decision. Consider a degree that placed stipulations such as "only eligible for those pursuing a major in economics or chemistry". Is this descrimination against religion? Yes, but of a weak sort. What if you want to create a scholarship that funded anything but political science majors? In what way would that scholarship be unconstitutional? If the plaintiffs wished to make a case, this was the angle from which they should have approached it.

Rehnquist nails it ("plays in the joints" is a great metaphor for it): neither the establishment clause nor the free exercise clause have been violated.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Problem With Your Logic (none / 1) (#14)
by dcm266 on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:25:09 PM EST

This isn't the same as a scholarship for economics students, or a scholarship for political science students. Those are devoted to a given field, and exist for a reason. In this case, every single other degree option is valid except for the devotional theology degree. In other words, if you are pursuing a non-religious degree fine; however, if you want to pursue devotional theology, you are not allowed to. The difference is rather obvious.

[ Parent ]
you should finish reading my post. (none / 1) (#17)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:42:50 PM EST

That's why I think that a different way to cast this is as a scholarship that excluded... say... political science; I don't think we would find any constitutional problem there. I was building up to that statement by presenting scholarships which are common: those that fund specific degrees.

I think you only got up to my first question of discrimination. It is discrimination but in a trivial way, in the way that a person can discriminate the difference between hamburger and sirloin.

You should try reading the whole post next time, it's not that long.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
I did finish your post (none / 2) (#25)
by dcm266 on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 10:46:25 PM EST

It doesn't matter. Like it or not, it's still discrimination against all those who are religious. The establishment and free exercise clauses refer to religion, and nothign else. They don't talk about political science majors, but they do mandate that the government neither establish nor prevent the free exercise of religion. Any analogy you give with scholarships that exclude certain subjects other than religion are flawed, as those other subjects are not protected by the Constitution. Religion is.


[ Parent ]

But this doesn't prevent the free exercise (none / 2) (#28)
by ajdecon on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 11:47:08 PM EST

All it says is, "we won't pay for it."
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Please explain (none / 1) (#128)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 12:21:40 PM EST

How does this impede the free exercise of religion?

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Look at it this way (none / 0) (#129)
by dcm266 on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 01:51:34 PM EST

Would you support a tax of say $1500 a year on students studying devotional theology? I doubt most people would, and this is where the problem lies. Because people simply see this as a case of the state simply not paying for the study of devotional theology, they assume that the section of Washington's constitution is religion neutral. Paying a $1500 tax when others in different fields pay nothing is similar relatively to being denied a scholarship on the basis of one's interest in religion, while others are not denied scholarships. This is a great area for the court to sidestep, as the relative distinction is ignored. True, not receiving a scholarship is not in and of itself an impediment, until you compare the case with those who receive it. We're dealing with relative disadvantage here, which does tend to cloud things. Still, denial of a public benefit based on religious interests is the same as a tax based on religious interests where no public benefit exists. The devotional theology student is left the amount of the scholarship poorer, and that is where the discrimination lies. -dcm266

[ Parent ]
I think I see where we disagree. (none / 0) (#137)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 05:25:39 PM EST

Frankly, I think your (and Scalia's) argument is a bit clouded by considering it a tax. Giving $20000 only to your daughters does not make your sons poorer, especially if there's an explicit agreement between you and your sons that they get no support from you. Affirming the appellate court's ruling requires the state to give money to would-be ministers.

But considering this to be my opinion, it later dawned on me that we disagree on the nature of the establishment clause so I'll explain further; let me know if I'm erring.

Mind you, I think there is plenty of room for debate here, but I think the comparative advantage argument falls flat in the face of the establishment clause, while you and Scalia are in support of it. Scalia, though passionate, is unconvincing to me. His argument is that a baseline is set by the scholastic award and therefore non-religious scholars pay less on average than religious scholars. I'll concede this as true. He goes on to say that we prohibit discrimination against blacks as much as we prohibit discrimination for blacks. I'll concede this, too.

Where his argument fails for me, though, is (if you'll permit the analogy) that the consitution does not say "congress shall make no law respecting support of black people." If it did, we could take this to mean at least one of two things: 1- either that blacks cannot receive any assistance from the state; 2-that blacks cannot receive any privileged assistance from the state. Our disagreement, I think is that we each would take it to mean the two different things. My reading of it is this: if it did say this, it would unmistakingly be considered racism: the state will not support blacks. Consequently, since it does say this about religion, it is explicitly the type of discrimintion that the constitution encourages.

With respect to religion, the First Amendment is a two edged sword. The state cannot stop you (even a little bit), but neither can it help you (even a little bit).

But that's just my thoughts.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 0) (#142)
by dcm266 on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 10:45:32 PM EST

I'm actually less interested in the establishment clause in this case, since I don't seriously think that letting Davey have his scholarship would be a violation of the establishment clause. What I'm looking at is the free exercise clause, where it is stated that Congress may not prohibit the free exercise of religion. To me, choice of occupation falls under the free exercise clause, and that is why I begin to talk about relative differences. It seems that giving to secular studies and explicitly denying those interested in devotional theology the same scholarship seems to act as a coercive measure against the practice of religion and of becoming a priest, thus it is not religion neutral in nature, and violates the free exercise clause. -dcm266

[ Parent ]
but you see where I'm coming from? (none / 0) (#147)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 10:25:33 AM EST

a strict reading of the establishment clause would prohibit any funding, even if it were equally doled out. After all, I agree with your points that religion is not being treated equitably, but the reason for the inequality is explicit in the constitution.

Anyway, I'm glad we can disagree (especially about religion) without resorting to name calling. I guess this is why they allow the dissenting opinions to be expressed in these cases.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
wait a sec... (none / 0) (#170)
by Danse on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:03:10 AM EST

There's no reason you need me to give you money to learn to preach your religion. You can have all the religion you want, but it's on your dollar, not mine. That's the way it should be. The state won't stop you from becoming a priest, but it certainly shouldn't be required to help you just because it provides scholarships for the pursuit of non-religious degrees. Religion is the one thing the state is not supposed to be involved in. That would seem to include funding religious education.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I was going to point out the same thing (none / 1) (#45)
by big fat idiot on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 07:42:32 AM EST

But I'd word it slightly differently, theology and "devotional" religion are probably both out. What isn't out is comparative study, history or philosophy of religion or religious studies.

[ Parent ]
Dude (none / 1) (#50)
by Verbophobe on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 12:00:21 PM EST

Theology, n:  the study of religious faith, practice, and experience.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration
[ Parent ]
Fine, quote the dictionary at me (none / 1) (#52)
by big fat idiot on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 01:40:17 PM EST

But the fact of the matter is that most theology courses assume the truth of the religion in question leaving it to sociology, history, philosophy, etc. of religion to investigate religion in a 'nonbiased' fashion.

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 1) (#85)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:56:10 PM EST

The wording of the clause simply says theolgy, not devotional theology. Thomas brings up the opposite point - if secular theology (the study of religious ideas without supporting them) was included he would not have dissented.

[ Parent ]
Constitutionally, it should be valid. (2.66 / 9) (#9)
by ajdecon on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 03:16:48 PM EST

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

If the State of Washington had chosen to support only a specific religion's theology degree, that would be Constitutionally invalid (respecting a specific establishment). If it refused to allow the student to study theology at all, that wouldn't work either (prohibiting free exercise). However, by simply refusing to contribute money towards the study of any religion at all, the State did not violate any Constitutional rights.

I personally think that Washington's being incredibly stupid, and that funding a theology student is in no way a violation of the separation of church and state: like Scalia said, it's available to everyone else as well, and a theology student has no special privileges. But the Supreme Court had no Constitutional obligation to strike down the state law.

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
Nope - 14th Amendment (none / 1) (#39)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:51:51 AM EST

The 14th Amendment extends restrictions of the US Congress pertaining to Free Speach/Religion to the state level (State Legislature and Constitutions). The relevant wording is No state (shall) deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". This was officially extended to Freedom of Religion in CANTWELL v. STATE OF CONNECTICUT (1940). Definitely one of my pet peeves when people don't know about Incorporation.

[ Parent ]
Wow - ignore me (none / 1) (#40)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:54:25 AM EST

I completely misread your comment. I am full of dumbassery.

[ Parent ]
What's the problem? (2.93 / 16) (#18)
by kitten on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05:58:01 PM EST

In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520 (1993), the majority opinion held that "[a] law burdening religious practice that is not neutral . . . must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny,"

In what way is this student's religious practice being burdened? One may practice religion without studying devotional theology.

More to the point, his right to practice religion - and even to study it - has not been infringed in the slightest. He is perfectly welcome and able to go to school, study whatever he wants, get his degree. The state is not forbidding him to do any of this - they are simply saying that they will not fund it. His rights under the free excercise clause are not being violated.

This does not seem to be a case where the government would be in danger of violating the establishment clause, as a scholarship awarded to a student of devotional theology would still be religion neutral.

Actually, the establishment clause is to be interpreted such that not only can the state not advocate a specific religion, but it also cannot advocate theism over atheism, or belief over non-belief. (And vice versa, of course.) A scholarship awarded to a student of devotional studies might be religiously neutral, but it wouldn't be belief neutral.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Would you look on it the same way if... (none / 2) (#33)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 01:40:30 AM EST

.. the ban was on Woman's Studies or African American Studies? What about the forfeiture of past scholarships if one used a political, legal, medical or philosophical education in some particular, protected way (such as government criticism or abortion)?

A ban on governmental scholarships only for religious studies seems discriminatory. On first scan, I thought it was simply the scholarship's policy. However, the state constitution specifically disallows scholarships to those who wish to study this one particular area. Forcing all studies that are partially or fully financed to be non-religious seems to discriminate.

[ Parent ]

It's because... (2.60 / 5) (#49)
by kcidx on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:43:45 AM EST

Devotional Theology is a bullshit topic that doesn't help ANYONE. Tax dollars for grants/scholarships are supposed to be spent EDUCATING people, not helping them master the art of drone recruitment and mental mastubation in the hopes of one day reaching some sort of fictional afterlife.

If you think they should fund Devotional Theology, I think they should fund LSD inspired navel gazing. Because it's the same shit.

[ Parent ]

Educating? (none / 1) (#66)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:16:30 PM EST

So philosophy does more to help people? What about art history? Ceramics? Phy Ed? Communications......

[ Parent ]
Please (3.00 / 6) (#51)
by Verbophobe on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 12:36:31 PM EST

  1. It's not a ban.  It's just that you can only use a scholarship to study a specific discipline.  If you got an engineering scholarship and went on to study psychology, you can be sure that you'd most probably lose it.
  2. The constitution doesn't say anything about "Woman's Studies" or "African American Studies".  It does, however, point out that the State should strive to detatch itself from any religious involvement.
  3. Yes, it's discrimination.  It's in the constitution, too.  Call your senator and suggest an amendment.  Maybe you won't get laughed at.
Mr. Verbophobe would like to apologise for the last statement.  Those responsible have been sacked.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration
[ Parent ]
Wrong on all counts. (none / 3) (#67)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:30:58 PM EST

1) Its a prohibition. Since all other studies are allowed, they provide the "baseline." Religious studies are specifically singled out.

2 & 3) The seperation between Church and State is one of neutrality not condemnation. Restricting studies of a religious nature (or penalizing them) is thus Unconstitutional. This means not only can one religion be advanced, but it can also not be inhibited. Religion as a whole can not be advanced, nor can it be discouraged.

State governments are also neither allowed to advance or prohibit religion. The government is required to take a neutral stance towards religion. If you allow everyone to take advantage of a program except those who will use it for religious purposes, than you are inhibiting religion.

From another post so I don't have to type it again... information is very Googlable or links from my other post.

The Lemon Test requires as its second component "...its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion;..."(emphasis mine). It seems clear that this law's primary goal is to inhibit religion.

Conclusion - you can't inhibit religion.

This was modified in '97 in Agnosti v Felton. It defined the criteria if the government was advancing religion. The second possibility is "defining the recipients of government benefits based on religion." Again this is clearly the case here.

This explicitly applies to governmental aid.

Everson v Board of Education is THE landmark state-seperation case. It requires 'evenhandedness'. In other words you can't give aid to people with the exception of its use for religious purposes. As long as the program is religion-neutral it is unconstitutional to restrict its use to non-religious activity (because that makes the program non-neutral and this unConstitutional).

You are again specifically prohibited from denying money that may be used for religious purposes solely for the purpose that those purposes are religious. Zelmon v Simmons-Harris is a very appropriate case. It rules school vouchers that may be used for religious schools are not a violation between Church and State because they are awarded regardless of religion or lack there of.

[ Parent ]

I love point by point battles (none / 1) (#73)
by Verbophobe on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 06:13:39 PM EST

They make me wet in that special place mommy told me not to touch because it was stinky.

You know what?  mcc rated my previous comment 3.  If that doesn't mean I'm right, I don't know what does.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration
[ Parent ]

Hmmmm (none / 1) (#75)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 06:32:54 PM EST

Wetness huh? Damn, I've got nothing to counter that! Damn vaginal lubrication!!!!!!!

[ Parent ]
purpose isn't to inhibit religion (none / 2) (#82)
by ajdecon on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:49:06 PM EST

It's simply to dissociate the state from it, and in particular from funding it. The First Amendment doesn't let the state endorse a particular religion, or to interfere with the free practice of religion. Refusing to help pay for a religious student's studies doesn't interfere with his ability to practice religion, it simply refuses to help. (Fine line, I know--but I think it's still there.)

Note that the US Constitution doesn't prohibit the state from having such a broad-based scholarship apply to religious students, as such would not respect a particular establishment of religion. The language leaves that decision to the state, for good or for ill. (For good in my opinion--while I don't think the State of Washington's right on this one, I'm happy to see powers reserved to the states left that way.)

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Wrong (none / 0) (#152)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 12:15:20 PM EST

It is in fact a ban. The law in question forbids ALL scholarships to be used for study of theology. This includes general (which was the case in this one) and needs based scholarships. It would be no different then if the state passed a law which forbade access to public parks to theology students.

The state is not required to provide public resources (i.e. scholarships, public parks). It MAY restrict the activities which those resources are used for (i.e. pursuit of academic studies, no use of fireworks in the park). It may even set RELAVENT standards for access to those resources (i.e. academic ability, residency).

However it may NOT restrict access to those resources based upon an individuals outside associations, religious pursuits, etc.
In other words, it may NOT prevent some-one who is a member of a particular church, attends services or studies theology from accessing a public park.

In this case the individual in question was a DOUBLE MAJOR who recieved a general academic scholarship. They would have qualified for the scholarship on thier business administration major alone. They would have qualified had they added any other major aside from theology to thier business administration major.... even basket weaving. They were disqualified based soley on the fact that they chose to study theology in addition. The state is NOT allowed to restrict an otherwise qualified individual access to a public resource based soley upon thier religous pursuits.

That likely runs afoul of freedom of religion, equal protection AND freedom of association.

[ Parent ]

Matter of Perspective (none / 3) (#62)
by virg on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 04:20:46 PM EST

> Would you look on it the same way if the ban was on Woman's Studies or African American Studies?

If I'm a man, I can study Women's Studies without being hypocritical. If I'm European, I can study African American Studies without being hypocritical. If I'm an atheist, I cannot study devotional theology without being hypocritical, and even if I somehow could, how could I use such a degree without discarding my atheism? Since this particular degree is restricted only to those who believe in some organized religion, it's reasonable to argue that the degree course itself is exclusionary in a way that the other courses you mentioned are not, on the basis of my religious beliefs. In that way, it could be better compared to a course study of white supremacy, unless you can find a college that offers a devotional theology degree course that an atheist could reasonably pass.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Right to not Fake it? (none / 1) (#64)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:15:13 PM EST

Since this particular degree is restricted only to those who believe in some organized religion,

It's not. You can study it and never become a minister. You can study it and never profess faith. You just won't do very well.

If you don't believe feminism was a good thing, or if you are racist than those other two areas will "force" you to be a hypocrit in the same way.

[ Parent ]

Hmmmm (none / 0) (#112)
by MorePower on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 02:17:52 PM EST

I'm not a big fan of organized religions, but I don't quite agree with you here. Presumably one could take a devotional theology course as an athiest, to better know the ways of your opponent. Such an athiest could go on a lecture tour promoting athiesm by using religion's own arguements against them, or something similar.

The exams in the course probably have questions like "Explain Saint so and so's theory of divine whatever and compare it to the major ideas of the reformation period," and not "Convince the faculty that you really love Jesus" so an athiest could just demonstrate his factual knowledge of the subject without being a hypocrite.

On the other hand if the program does require some sort of declaration that you are a true believer then it should not be funded by the gorernment, even if they are just teaching standard physics.

[ Parent ]
Good ruling, here's why (2.94 / 19) (#23)
by Salted on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 10:30:50 PM EST

What the Court recognized here is that the state may fund some programs of study and not others.  This is implicit in the ruling, and beyond serious dispute. In order to further the interests of the State (ie economic needs) the state may choose to fund certain programs of study.  For instance, it may create scholarships for engineers, and even establish entire colleges to produce more engineers, if that is in the best interest of the state.  The issue in this case is whether the distinction between "theology" and "everything else" is an exception to this general power of the state.

This article argues that distinguishing theology from secular degrees amounts to discrimination against religion.  This argument fails because the Constitution itself distinguishes between religious and non-religious conduct and institutions.  Congress may establish any sort of institution, but not a religious one.  The federal government may proclaim any sort of fact, opinion, or belief, but not a religious one. Religion is special; the text of the First Amendment makes it so.  Discrimination between the religious and the secular is not equivilent to discrimination between religions, as the former is embedded in the text of the Constitution, while the latter is expressly prohibited.

The government may "buy" social services from any organization, as long as the interests that it pursues are secular.  In other words, the government may not discriminate on the basis of the beliefs of a person or organization, but it can and should discriminate on the basis of the services it is buying.  In this case, the state wants more college graduates, but not more graduates in religious studies.  So it subsidizes college degrees, even at religious schools - but not theology degrees, which do not meet the secular purpose of the state.  If the state needed more pastors, it could fund theology degrees exclusively on the same principle.  

So, why is it that the state can restrict (1.50 / 4) (#26)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 10:55:15 PM EST

some majors and not others and that's okay, but it's not okay for the state to restrict some races and not others?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
Conduct vs Characteristics (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by Salted on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 11:13:33 PM EST

Race is a characteristic of a person, while a course of study is a type of conduct.  

The 14th amendment equal protection clause prohibits the government from discriminating among people based on their inherent characteristics, not conduct.  

In any case, equal protection claims are always balanced against legitimate state interests in discrimination.  For further education on these issues, see US v. Virginia (gender discrimination at a state-sponsored school ruled unconstitutional), Brown v. Board of Education, which ended school racial segregation.

[ Parent ]

Religion in part is Conduct (none / 1) (#36)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:18:22 AM EST

The practicing of a religion is also conduct. However, that conduct can only be regulated if some other public need overrides the individual right. The government can not specifically outlaw a specific religious practice just because it is a religious practice, regardless of the fact that it is conduct. It follows then that restricting the study of a religion solely because it is religious is should be disallowed.

[ Parent ]
Restricting? (none / 3) (#54)
by InigoMontoya on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:02:03 PM EST

Nobody's restricting anything. The State of Washington isn't restricting anyone's right to take as many religious courses as he or she wants; all they're doing is saying "we aren't going to pay for those religious courses." Why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize religion?*

* Yes, yes, the question can be asked about anything one doesn't believe in or finds morally offensive: immoral war, welfare, support of Israel, etc. But this is a situation in which the state had a statute on the books about this thing, and the court was judging its constitutionality. I'd love to see a system in which people don't have to support programs that they find morally repugnant; however, that system seems impossible with the current setup of the US Government.

This signature is self-referential.
[ Parent ]

Restricting a Benefit = Discrimination (2.00 / 4) (#74)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 06:31:29 PM EST

You can't restrict welfare, education, medicare or other governmental (tax paid) benefits based on a prohibited catagory (religion, race, gender etc), why should you be able to with scholarships? The scholarship was mechanical; if you reached these academic and financial benchmarks you received the scholarships - if you don't study theology as a major. A law such as you may recieve welfare if you are below this income level - if you are not Hindi - would clearly be illegal.

[ Parent ]
Ooh, an easy one. (3.00 / 8) (#53)
by mcc on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 01:41:50 PM EST

some majors and not others and that's okay, but it's not okay for the state to restrict some races and not others?

Because the two situations have literally nothing to do with each other, you've just put them in the same sentence together.

[ Parent ]

Problems (none / 2) (#29)
by dcm266 on Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 11:50:32 PM EST

There is no establishment of religion in this case. The scholarship is awarded to students based on merit, not any preferred field of study. Those who wish to study devotional theology are told, "Sorry, we're taking away your scholarship." In this case, the individual freedom of choice is being restricted when it has to do with religion. Since the choice of major is a personal one, and not a government one, the scholarship should exist for any program that any person wants to study. Preventing establishment of religion does not justify denying a common social good to those who wish to study devotional theology, simply because of their preference. If devotional theology students were allowed to be given the scholarship, then the scholarship would be perfectly neutral towards religion, neither encouraging or discouraging corresponding study. This, however, is not the case.



[ Parent ]

I don't get it (none / 0) (#163)
by Wah on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 11:25:25 AM EST

There is no establishment of religion in this case.

How is establishing a person who establishes religion NOT establishing religion?

I don't understand.

K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
[ Parent ]

Simple (none / 0) (#171)
by ThanatosNL on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:39:11 AM EST

The same way Chevron selling gas to someone who uses it to set fire to a building isn't guilty of arsony.

Not only is it incorrect to say that all graduates with degrees in theology establish religions, or that you need such a degree to affect change onto a religion, the private choice for a person to pursue a desired avenue in life is much different from a public endorsement of a given theology.

The best thing you can do for your government is criticize it.
[ Parent ]

Direct Contradiction from Lemon Test , '97 and '02 (3.00 / 4) (#70)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:52:39 PM EST

The Lemon Test used to determine the seperation between Church and State refers to the advancement or the inhibition of religion not just the advancement. Agnostic v Felton specifically applies this to governmental aid. Zelmon v Simmons-Harris finds that government aid provided may be provided on a neutral basis (towards religion). This applies to the granting of aid for religious purposes AND the withholding of aid from religious purposes that also fulfill the purpose of the scholarship.

If the state needed more pastors, it could fund theology degrees exclusively on the same principle.

No it could not. That would also be a violation between Church & State, this time advancing religion. Each individual scholarship could list appropriate majors (even though this is vulnerable to being de facto the same law), but the issue is with general merit or need based scholarships. They say you can study anything, as long as its not religion. This is equivalent according to established Supr. Court rulings, to saying you can only study religion using this scholarship (illegal).

[ Parent ]

I stand partially corrected (none / 2) (#77)
by Salted on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 07:24:52 PM EST

You're right, the Agostini decision makes it clear that the state cannot fund theological studies exclusively.  

The Agostini and Zelmon cases both deal with the establishment clause exclusively, since the issue in those cases was whether the state was permitted to fund programs which would indirectly benefit religious institutions.  What the court announced in Locke is that while such funding is permitted under the establishment clause, it is not required by the free exercise clause.  

This is not inconsistent with Lemon test.  Lemon v. Kurtzman:

In the absence of precisely stated constitutional prohibitions, we must draw lines with reference to the three main evils against which the Establishment Clause was intended to afford protection: "sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity." Walz v. Tax Commission, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970).

Every analysis in this area must begin with consideration of the cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years. Three such tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 243 (1968); [403 U.S. 602, 613]   finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." Walz, supra, at 674.

Notice that to be prohibited by the establishment clause, the "principal or primary effect" of a law must inhibit or advance religion.  In this case, the court makes clear that the scholarship has a valid, secular purpose - it's principle effect is to fund education, not regulate religious belief.  Furthermore, there is the distinction between inhibition of religion and promotion of other non-religious causes - and the latter does not imply the former.  Though it funds other programs, the state is not inhibiting theological studies.  

[ Parent ]
Disagree (none / 0) (#150)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 11:34:34 AM EST

"Though it funds other programs, the state is not inhibiting theological studies."

Yes it is, because the individual was a DOUBLE MAJOR. He was studying Business Adminstration AND Theology. Had he been studying Business Administration ALONE his scholarship would not have been in jeopardy. Because he chose to add Theology to it, his scholarship was revoked. It would be no different then had a business administration major had his scholarship revoked for attending services at the campus chapel.

[ Parent ]

Well stated (none / 1) (#71)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 06:01:49 PM EST

And I concur, with the following exception:

Congress may establish any sort of institution, but not a religious one.


The federal government may proclaim any sort of fact, opinion, or belief, but not a religious one.

Here I must disagree. The judicial record on the matter is less than clear, but as things currently stand, expressing or endorsing a belief which has a religious character is not inherently unconstitutional. Although, Were one to chart the general trajectory of judicial decisions on the establishment clause over the last 40 years, you could certainly make the argument that the tendency has been to interpret the relevant language along lines similar to what you propose.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
Interesting - to expound on that point (none / 1) (#80)
by Salted on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:10:19 PM EST

I based my origional statement on my recollection of school prayer cases.  A bit of research has shown that you are correct - the Court has taken a dim view of school prayer because the students are a captive audience, and out of belief that students are especially vulnerable to religious indoctrination.  However, it has upheld prayers opening sessions of a legislature (see Marsh v. Chambers).  

Lee v. Weisman, a school prayer case, summed up the situation with a nice quote from a previous opinion:

"The First Amendment does not prohibit practices which, by any realistic measure, create none of the dangers which it is designed to prevent, and which do not so directly or substantially involve the state in religious exercises or in the favoring of religion as to have meaningful and practical impact. It is, of course, true that great consequences can grow from small beginnings, but the measure of constitutional adjudication is the ability and willingness to distinguish between real threat and mere shadow. School Dist. of Abington v. Schempp, supra, at 308 (Goldberg, J., concurring).

So the government can endorse religion, as long as that endorsement is trite, and meaningless.  

[ Parent ]
Good thought... (none / 0) (#139)
by jmzero on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 07:15:48 PM EST

So the government can endorse religion, as long as that endorsement is trite, and meaningless

I think that's a good test.  

The government shouldn't be supporting a religion - but supporting a vague Oprah-ism is almost certainly harmless, and possibly beneficial.

I'll add to this that all politicians should profess a common, boring, mainstream religion - but not actually believe anything it teaches other than the previously mentioned tritenesses.  

Unless they are not Christian, in which case they should cling diligently to one non-threatening ritual from their professed religion - and otherwise behave exactly like everyone else.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

My proposal (2.87 / 8) (#30)
by bobpence on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 12:16:06 AM EST

For the scholarship in this case and the wider applicability of school vouchers, I have a pragmatic approach in mind that I have not heard discussed:

Pro-rate the funding according to the portion that is religious. If Catholic school includes six hours of instruction per day total and 45 minutes are spent in religion class, make the school voucher worth 87.5% as much as if it were used at a non-religious school. Thus the general public (if the scholarship funds or vouchers are provided through the government) would not be compelled to fund either entirely religious schools (e.g. madrassas) nor that portion of other schools with religious content.

Money is fungible, which is why I think it would be inappropriate to pay the same dollars for religious and non-religious schooling regardless of whether that funding covers 100% or 5% of the total. As an implication, the theology major should have received the scholarship money in proportion to the non-religious courses he was taking.

Some gray area would exist -- could a non-theology major end up taking two-thirds of the same classes within the theology department, with no impact on his government scholarship dollars? Possibly; this is where pragmatism comes in. An engineer with an interest in religion is not a minister, and it is ministers who feel beholden to the government that I do not want to see, any more than I want to see a government beholden to clerics. But what the state of Washington seeks to do goes further down this road than pragmatism demands.

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

just as bad (none / 0) (#107)
by PigleT on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 09:12:03 AM EST

"As an implication, the theology major should have received the scholarship money in proportion to the non-religious courses he was taking."

Why? How do you think this isn't discriminating against religion just as badly as the original problem?

The whole point is: what is wrong with someone studying on a religious course? Why should that whole area of expertise be singled-out for discriminatory practice in regard to funding? If something is good enough to be studied at university, it should be subject to the same potential for scholarships as any other course, right?

Now it gets interesting: perhaps there's some underlying bias towards one particular religion or another across all universities? Or the university in question is not trusted by the authorities to present an unbiassed course, or something? Then that should be addressed, in a non-discriminatory manner as the source problem, not skirted-around.

Ultimately, I don't see why inflicting either "there is no God" or "you can't afford to cease being ignorant about matters of religion" on people is any better than sticking them with a curvy scimitar in the name of not-being-the-right-religion, myself.
~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
[ Parent ]

This is effectively discriminatory (none / 0) (#108)
by bobpence on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 10:12:00 AM EST

Several European countries have systems whereby they collect taxes from individuals and give them to the church each citizen designates. You may question how this is all that much different from exempting churches from taxes as the U.S. does, since both systems result in churches having more money and private individuals paying a greater share of the government's expenses because of that provision. The answer is, when it comes to religion and money the U.S. makes a practice of disengagement, and always should.

I have no problem if a potential engineer, whose family can not quite afford to send her to college, gets 20% of her tuition covered by the state and, years later, feels beholden to the government. But a future minister in the same boat would perhaps get 70% as much under my plan, but would decidedly not feel beholden to man's government over God's. Yes, realistically the state enabled her to get to school, but as she and her flock would see it, she would not owe the state allegiance when its interests differ from church teachings. Were she to minister in one of those churches that still oppose miscegenation, she would have more authority to speak out against the anti-miscegenation policy than someone 'paid for' by the state.

Of course this has to do with generally-available funds, such as the program in Washington state or school vouchers. When it comes to encouraging specific fields of study, the government may decide they need more engineers or physical therapists, but has no business determining whether there is a clergy shortage.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

But what about... (none / 0) (#126)
by divinus on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 10:12:19 AM EST

...other subjects that the hypothetical Catholic school that would be skewed by religious sentiment? In other words, the theology class at the Catholic school isn't the only class in which theology will be taught.

Two such examples may certainly include biology (where animal evolution and adaptation do not occur, and reproductive education is typically non-existant), and history (a 5764 year old planet gives some problems, not only with geology, but the existance of historical ancient civilisations).

[ Parent ]

Skewed by degrees (none / 1) (#130)
by bobpence on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 02:17:18 PM EST

I was going to make that very point in my last paragraph, on gray areas. It is important to me that the government not fund entirely-religious schools -- whether they be madrassas or seminaries -- not that they deny aid to students at Villanova because most people that go in Catholic also come out that way.

Historically colleges were usually founded by churches, and to some degree that influence is still present in many of the schools operating today. I think to an extent accreditation helps sort schools where openmindedness reigns from those that are merely arms of, say, Jerry Falwell's group or the Unification Church.

Pragmatism means that biology instructors even in a public colleges will usually prevaricate and emphasize that while exam answers will depend on the correct understanding of evolution as they teach it, individual beliefs are not obviated by such instruction. Indeed, there are likely to be more than a few creationists among the state officials who oversee syllabi, among the alumni who help fund the school, and even among the biology professors.

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

"What seems to exist here (1.55 / 18) (#31)
by circletimessquare on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 12:17:38 AM EST

is a case of discrimination against religion"

as well there should be

we need more doctors, programmers, scientists, etc.

not more mindless zombies

do you consider yourself a spiritual person? then do not attach yourself to organized religion

i've come to the undeniable conclusion that in life, organized religion is the largest enemy to real spirituality in this world

do you get love in a whorehouse? no, you get sex

do you get real spirituality in a temple/ mosque/ church? no, you get zombie sheep creation

lose organized religion in your life, dear gentle reader, and move yourself to a more spiritual existence

there should be discrimination against religion in every day civic life

organized religion should be smashed, ruined and scattered, for the preservation of civilization, the sanctity of reason, and, above all, for the cause of true spiritual existence

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

So basically... (none / 3) (#37)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:21:28 AM EST

.. you don't like organized religion so screw em? Their rights are only good until you don't like them? Remember that we're talking the First Amendment here.

Now I'm not a religious guy. I don't go to church, and I'm not a devout anything. However, the principal of the First Amendment is more important than producing a couple more Business Majors.

[ Parent ]

you don't know who you are dealing with (1.66 / 9) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:57:54 AM EST

i'm not talking about the first amendment

i'm talking about the need to bomb and burn every church, temple and mosque on this planet in order to save civilization

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

A personal finding (none / 2) (#60)
by conthefol on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:28:23 PM EST

I find that it is often the parents who are responsible for the indoctrination, not the church. Another example is the zillions of stupid kids who grow up wanting to be sports stars.

Then again, I suppose the sports thing is a way to shatter all their hopes so they accept a shitty job and shitty family.

kuro5hin is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E!!!
[ Parent ]

lol, good shit ;-) (nt) (none / 0) (#162)
by circletimessquare on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 08:30:12 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Good Luck and Godspeed to You (2.88 / 9) (#61)
by Mr Badger on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:41:51 PM EST

As a general rule, whenever somebody tells me they plan to save civilization by blowing somebody or something up, I assume they meant to say "destroy anybody not made in my image" instead of "save the world."

I, for one, will miss capitalization and punctuation.

[ Parent ]

organized religion (none / 0) (#109)
by circletimessquare on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 11:03:45 AM EST

is the enemy of civilization

by supporting some other organized religion in the process of proposing that we destroy the traditional ones, i would be a giant hypocrite, wouldn't i?

but i'm not, and i'm not

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

God Forbid I Be Misunderstood (none / 2) (#111)
by Mr Badger on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 01:58:21 PM EST

No, you're not a hypocrite. I didn't mean to suggest you were promoting one particular form of religion above all others. It should be abundantly clear to anybody that regularly reads your posts that you abhor all organized religion.

I was simply noting that whenever anybody says, "To save {place positive, valuable thing here} we must violently rid the world of {place name of group}," it is usually just a nice way of saying that they intend to kill everybody that disagrees with them.

So while I might use terminology like "bigot," "near genocidal," or "grotesquely narrow worldview," I wouldn't call you religious or say you were a hypocrite.

[ Parent ]

allow me to introduce another recurring theme (none / 1) (#123)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 03:03:19 AM EST

there is intolerance

then there is intolerance of intolerance

intolerance: "i hate you because you are black/ a woman/ a jew/ a sunni/ poor/ a homosexual/ french/ mexican/ etc..."

intolerance of intolerance: "i hate you because you hate someone based on racism/ sexism/ bigotism/ sectarianism/ classism/ homophobia/ ethnocentrism/ xenophobia/ etc..."

the former is sin

the latter is saintliness

know the difference

then judge me/ make your roundabout generalization

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Clarify (none / 1) (#125)
by Mr Badger on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 09:25:10 AM EST

I thought I grasped the distinction, but I guess I don't. Maybe you could help me.

Because you think it would be a better world if we burned down the Jews' temples and the Sunnis' mosques, are you the sinner or the saint in this situation?

[ Parent ]

we need to abandon organized religion (none / 0) (#131)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 02:30:29 PM EST

in order to save humanity

it was very convenient of you to exclude christian churches in your portrayal of me, to paint me as someone as i am not, but i hate all organized religions equally, as all have blood on their hands

bomb the vatican

bomb mecca

bomb the wailing wall

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

God Knows I Don't Want to Misrepresent You (none / 1) (#132)
by Mr Badger on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 03:13:47 PM EST

I left Christian churches off the list of things you'd bomb because you left Christians off the list of things an intolerant person could hate. I was simply picking examples from your list. I have no doubt you assume bombing every Christian church would make the world a better place. I didn't mention Buddhist monks either, though I assume you'd want their temples burned and their great works tossed into the fire. (This is, in fact, where you and the Taliban find common ground.)

Basically, we've had thousands of years of people trying to "save the world" by scapegoating others and attempting to destroy their way of life. And we are still not "saved" (whatever that means). I don't see what makes your plan any different from the Inquisition, or the Soviet Union's effort to destroy religion, or eugenicist efforts to stamp out biological difference, or any other of a million fanatical "crusades."

Humanity will be saved when people quit trying to save it by fire and bloodshed.

[ Parent ]

how about we go by track record (none / 0) (#133)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 03:42:49 PM EST

show me how many people i've hurt and destroyed versus those we've talked about

it's about intolerance

and intolernace of intolerance

do you understand the difference?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

God Save Us From Fanatics (none / 1) (#136)
by Mr Badger on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 04:15:27 PM EST

No, I get the difference. Intolerance is what other people use to justify bombing places of worship. Intolerance of intolerance is what you use to justify bombing places of worship. The distinction couldn't be clearer.

What you're advocating is just more destruction and oppression. Other than your say so, how could I tell your church bombing apart from the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing?

Is a bunch of bombed out churches, mosques, and synagogues really the best your saved humanity has to offer?

[ Parent ]

organized religion (none / 0) (#138)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 06:45:46 PM EST

is intolerance

it elevates ethnocentrism and worship of self over everything else

there is no humility in it, no spirituality, it is a whorehouse of souls, a creator of sheep

i fight intolerance, and you equate me with it

i don't understand

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

God Willing, You'll Win This Thing Yet (none / 1) (#140)
by Mr Badger on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 07:40:15 PM EST

Your opinion of religion isn't what I'm disagreeing with (though I do disagree). It is your proposed "final solution." Have you considered something less explosive? Maybe a comprehensive program of education and ever escalating standards of living? Nothing kills religious fanaticism like easy-living.

[ Parent ]
too slow (none / 1) (#141)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 09:21:18 PM EST

we don't have enough time

it is only a matter of time before the fundies get their hands on nuclear weapons

what you propose to solve the problem will take decades

the fundies must be fought, physically

you cannot let someone who proposes to murder you let them get away with it, you cannot let fundies destroy civilization even as they warn you repeatedly of their intentions

religious fundamentalism does indeed breed in poverty and ignorance, you know that... but while you build schools, they blow them up, religious fundamentalism actively seeks to recreate the conditions in which it breeds

it is stronger than your well-meaning efforts, because your well-meaning efforts can also be painted as godless propaganda, and your good work can very easily be erased

you must take the fight to their battlefield: physical violence

astroturf their houses of worship

destroy them, send them running

religious fundamentalism organizes and channels the suicidal and homocidal impulses of the intolerant into a world of mutually assured self-destruction like no nuclear arsenal can

when there is a nuclear signature in los angeles, or paris, or beijing, or moscow, you will think of me again, for you will then feel the urgency with which i speak, but you do not feel

you will feel it, and you will think of me again, for you will know my urgency when the snakes strike again

you must fight them, actively, not passively, meet the sleeze head on, and kill them

murder the religious fundamentalists!
murder the religious fundamentalists!
murder the religious fundamentalists!

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Let God Sort Them Out? (none / 1) (#146)
by Mr Badger on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 10:16:39 AM EST

Do you make any distinction between a religious person who has demonstrated that they are willing to try to violently subject others to their belief systems (say boogeyman ne plus ultra bin Laden) and religious people who demonstrate that they are seemingly unwilling to force points of their faith's dogma or belief systems on others (say pro-choice Catholic John Kerry)? In short: is every religious person a "fundie"?

[ Parent ]
this is what i am saying (none / 1) (#153)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 01:14:29 PM EST

clean up the inevitable harvest of organized religion: the turning of otherwise normal children who would become doctors, lawyers, janitors, secretaries, and turns them into madmen

my assertion is not killing fundamentalists just because they are there, they are not victims

my assertion is that someone is sticking a gun to your head, and i am defending us from that person

who is that person? religious fundamnetalists

i am defending us from them, not attacking them without cause

religious fundamnetalists are already waging war on civilization

they are the vanguard of organized religion: keep them weak and poor and heavily populated, and they are merely a field ready to be sown with the seed of insanity: organized religion

prosperity, happiness, cosmopolitanism: these are the enemies of organized religion, these are free thinkers, free thinkers are very dangerous

the problem is you look at me as some wacko starting some ridiculous war

when really, i am merely defending us from a war on us that has waged for hundreds of years: organized religion versus reason

i am not the aggressor, i am the defender, see?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Christ already! Just Answer the Question . . . (none / 1) (#154)
by Mr Badger on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 01:53:16 PM EST

You did not say "destroy all religiously affiliated terror camps" or even "destroy only those churches belonging to extreme fundamentalist". You said we should destroy the places of worship of all organized religions in a violent manner.

You still haven't answered my question: do you distinguish between religious persons who have, by action or by stated threat, made a target of you and religious persons who have not done so? Are they all the same to you? Do you think the Catholic John Kerry and the Muslim Osama bin Laden are both threats to you and should both have their places of worship destroyed?

[ Parent ]

you have good points (none / 0) (#155)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 02:23:02 PM EST

it is better to violently oppose the religious fundie crop of organized religion first

but that does not let the churches, mosques, and temples off scott free

they create the crop of these zombies

those who belong to organized religion are brainwashed children

so the churches, mosques, and temples must still be burned, so that the fundie crops are not sown and reaped anymore

you defeat the monster sfirst, as you point out, and then you defeat that which creates the monsters: organized religion

your point is good: the existing fundie crop is more urgently asking for it's death, with their beliefs so diametrically opposed to peace and prosperity

organized religion is the orignial enemy of peace and prosperity, but you are correct, we must defeat it's agents first, and then destroy that which creates those agents

do you deny organized religion is the enemy of peace, prosperity, happiness, spirituality, reason, justice, civilization?

or do you insist on painting me with the same brush as those i oppose in your mind?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

No Clever Title (none / 1) (#156)
by Mr Badger on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 04:10:17 PM EST

That organized religion has, on numerous occasions, used its authority to perpetrate horrible crimes against humanity, is, I feel, an undeniable fact of history. I do deny that organized religion, by definition, creates thoughtless zombies. Einstein was a Jew. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian. Gandhi was Hindu. I would have trusted St. Francis of Assisi not to lead his followers into a meaningless war for little or no benefit more than I would have trusted Lenin or Marx to do the same.

There is a bit of a rhetorical trick here, namely the old "Buddha for Hitler" swap of comparing some of the brightest lights of one group the some of the worst examples of another. My point is not that religious people are "better" than atheists (or that atheists or better than religious folk). Organized religion, any organized religion, is an institution created and maintained by human beings. As such, it needs must contain all the failings of the flesh inherent to human beings and it can be no better or worse than any other institution - religious or secular. The official "secularity" of France did not stop it from waging horrible colonial war from the 18th century to the 20th century. By the same token, the religious culture of America has stopped none of her crimes.

I should point out, however, that religion, if it must contain human failings, must also contain much of what is the best and most worthy in humans. It is true that somewhere, as you read this, a suicide bomber is planning a heinous act in the name of God. It is equally true that, as you read this, a Christian mission in NYC (I'm thinking of the Bowery Mission, continuously in operation since the late 1800s) is preparing to give food to the needy, regardless of creed. (In the interest of full disclosure, I know this because I've eaten there, and worked there when I no longer needed their help, and they never once cared to ask me what faith I was.)

You may bring up the idea that organized religion, while not a prerequisite for evil behavior, is a contributing factor. That doesn't quite fit the facts of history. While organized religion is one of the fuels that powered the formation of the KKK, it was just as powerful a motivational force for many civil rights workers (in fact, the civil rights movement as we know would hardly have existed without Christian, Jewish, and Muslim activists making racial equality a religious cause).

You have stated again and again that absolutism of any sort is fundamentalism. I charge that tarring all members of all religious organizations with the same brush is a form of absolutism and therefore a form of fundamentalism.

I agree that violence is sometimes a necessary component of self-defense. I agree that certain sections of certain faiths have decided that I am a heretic and therefore a fair target for violent action. I further agree that these people will most likely never be stopped by reasoned argument or peaceful persuasion.

Tell me that, by the mere virtue of belonging to a church of some kind, all members of all religions worldwide should be destroyed, and I will not follow. I refuse to be that absolute or, if you prefer, "fundamentalist" in my views.

[ Parent ]

i am not an atheist (none / 0) (#157)
by circletimessquare on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 01:22:00 AM EST

i am a very spiritual person

i am also a very moral person

both of those positions move me to oppose organized religion

organized religion kills spirituality, and leads to immoral, selfish, intolerant, ethnocentric behavior

the examples of great jewish/ christian/ hindu people you cite above are members of organized religion nominally, but not in their hearts

many if not most catholics today would accept women as priests, married priests, abortion, contraception, etc.

the church's opposition to these things is organized religion acting in a way that is immoral: intolerance

so people who call themselves "catholic" but, in their thoguhtful, spiritual, moral lives, have moved to oppose the catholic church int heir hearts, are therefore, in fact, not really catholics

jesus was a very tolerant man, and in his name today, the most dreadful sort of ethnocentric, xenophobic, geopolitically motviated intolerance is thrust upon the brain wahsed masses

that is the problem, not the people who are nominally catholic but truthfully have moved beyond organized rleigions insanity

likewise for all the muslims who show respect for the ethnocentric and geopolitical bullshit that is shouted from the minarets in public, but secretly know true humanity and empathy, if only they were able to express their true views without fear of reprisal from the zombie hatchet men of the intifadah and jihad east who depend upon and support and extend their bigotted worldviews

do you get love in a whorehouse? no, you get sex. do you get spirituality in a church/ temple/ mosque? no, you get a magical display, lot's of lights and noise, but no spiritual content, just political posturing, and brainwashing, sheep creation, obedient slaves to a monoculture

i oppose organized religion because when organized religion dies, moral behavior will increase, tolerance will increase, spirituality will increase

anyone who realizes true morality, true sirituality, true tolerance, and who work in the framework of christian charity, or jewish charity, or muslim charity, have, in their hearts, made peace with the psychic dissonance that there are teachings in their creed that are diametrically opposed to their good work

they are members of the church/ mosque/ temple only nominally, because they know no other alternative to expressing their goodness

but there is an alternative, and there are people like me fighting for those good people to be allowed to express their good works without the psychic dissonance that exists between their good work and the vile teachings of the tortured twisted words of their prophets, such as those, who in the name of jesus, bomb abortion clinics

surely, in a world without organized religion, there will still be lunatics who bomb abortion clinics, but at least, in such a world, they will be viewed as what they are: lone lunatics, instead of finding resonance and support with the biggoted anchor of an organized, financed, housed, and media-exposed religion

we are in the teenaged years of mankind and civilization

if we are ever to move out of it into adulthood and maturity in civilization, organized religion and it's tribal displays of intolerance, immorality and spiritual depravity must die

ps: i am not an atheist, but neither am i agnostic, an agnostic says we cannot know if there is or is not a god

i know there is a god: the universe, the universe and the god are one and the same

so i do believe in god, because i believe in the universe, and i have true, real spirituality: i am humble before the mightiness of the universe and appreciate the speck of insignificance that i am in time and space

so then, arguing about whether or not god exists is merely semantics: everything you can say about god you can say about the universe just as well, so deal with the word substitution and move on, no psychic dissonance whatsoever ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Common Ground and Differences? (none / 0) (#158)
by Mr Badger on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 10:39:39 AM EST

For the record, I find it difficult to believe that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. felt, as the head of Baptist congregation and therefore the leader of an organized spiritual body, that he was not a full-fledged member of an organized religion.

Another point of clarification, there are many Muslims who are quite outspoken against the terror tactics used by extremist groups. Your depiction of international Islam seems to depict all Muslims as terrorists or those who quietly capitulate to terror. This is, I feel, an erroneous depiction of Islam on a global scale (though it may accurately depict life for Muslims in countries where extreme interpretations of Koranic law are in practice).

That said, I don't have any problem with your views on organized religion (though I disagree). They're fairly common and widely held these days. Nor have I ever accused you of immorality or atheism - though I can see how my references to atheism in the previous post could easily be mistaken as references to your spirituality. The intention was simply to suggest that membership in a church did not necessarily mean one was a mindless zombie. It was directed at your argument and not meant to be a statement about your personal connection, whatever it may be, with the divine (or sublime, or what have you).

In fact, it seems to me as if we've found a bit of common ground. We both agree that within any given group identifying itself as members of an organized religion there will be differences. Some of these members may pose serious threats to those around them while others do not. Our differences seem to be in deciding which members of these groups are truly representative of the organized religion in question. I, being perhaps too Pollyannaish, choose to focus on those who do right by others. You choose to focus on those who are dangerous threats to our safety.

As for whether or not God exists, I don't presume to have a completely satisfactory answer to that question.

[ Parent ]

first (none / 0) (#160)
by circletimessquare on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 07:40:25 PM EST

let me thank you

i am quite the battle-scarred troll here, and this is a real breath of fresh air

i haven't had an open, honest, level-headed exchange here in awhile, and given my proclivities to hotheadedness and the abundance of equally hotheaded types here, this moderate, thoughtful exchange is much appreciated, and you are the reason for it, not me

so thank you mr badger! your temperament and thoughtfulness and honesty is MUCH appreciated ;-)

now: you are correct on mlk, but i would assert that i am correct on your example of say, einstein, as his membership in organized religion i don't think was very central to his contributions to the world or his world philosophy

secondly, the way you have characterized muslims is more accurate than mine, and i agree with it wholeheartedly, so where i strayed in my depictions, it is a failture of my rhetorical skills, not my analytical ones, and your more levelheadedness is again therefore much appreciated

third, i will take your observations on organized religion where we find common ground and attempt to take you a step in my direction (with respect, as you have shown to me)

The intention was simply to suggest that membership in a church did not necessarily mean one was a mindless zombie... Some of these members may pose serious threats to those around them while others do not.

yes, but i assert that membership in a church pulls you in the direction of mindless zombieness, and where spirituality and goodness still exists within members of said church, it is in spite of, not because of, said church. the catholic church today, for example, with its teachings on married priests, women priests, homosexuality, contraception, abortion, etc., clearly has strayed into ideological territory that is very much intolerant, very much in complete opposition to the tolerant teachings of it's prophet, jesus christ

imagine that

i will assert to you, and you may refute, that organized religion is a radicalizing phenomenon in today's world, not a moderating phenomenon. so while i agree with you that there are plenty of people who identify themselves as christian, muslim, jewish, etc., who are good, spiritual, tolerant individuals, the teachings of the organization religion they are part of renders them, therefore, as incomplete members. that to be complete members, they must lose some of their tolerance, some of their sense of justice, to lose some of their reason, in order to be fully tue members of the given religion.

for example, if you are in opus dei, the catholic charity work organization, you fill your life with good work... but you also subscribe to intolerant ideological viewpoints. therefore, while there is plenty of good people who are members of organized religion out there, they are incomplete.

my aim is to complete them by allowing for them to continue there good work outside the framework of organized religion. the aim of organized religion is to make them 100% complete subscribers of a creed, which means they must abandon some of their goodness and tolerance. see?

lose organized religion, and you increase your goodness and spirituality. burrow further into organized religion, and you lose goodness and spirituality.

thatis because there exists psychic dissonance between good spiritual people and the teachings of organized religion since every single organized religion has intolerant teachings deeply embedded in their creed.

so my assertion to you is one of spritual growth, of spiritual awakening, of moving from one's spiritual teenage years spent in a church/ temple/ mosque into spiritual adulthood by becoming more cosmopolitan, more individualistic... drawing and synthesizing various teachings form various creeds around the world to arrive at something less zombified, greater than the sum of it's parts.

you can take the teachings of jesus, or mohammad, or abraham, or siddhartha gautama (go to sri lanka for a lesson in buddhist fundamentalism), or guru nanak (sikhism), or aesop even, for chrissake: any prophet of great spiritual wisdom that is the foundation of your beliefs, who has left imprints on spirituality with their humble works and prostate genuflection before the majesty of the universe/ god (same thing).

what i am not proposing is an embracing of baha'i, which is just another layer of organized religion, even though it purports much of what i said here as well

instead i am asserting an abandoning of organized religion completely

so clearly, my path to spirituality is essentially individualitic, so also clearly, my assertion is that true spirituality is found within oneself, not within the confines of the whorehouses of faith: the churches, the temples, the mosques, theplaces where brainwashed sheep of monoculture are forged into large unmoving intolerant, ignorant masses with closed eyes and closed minds, content in their spiritual decadence and decay and ineptitude and inertia.

to me, organized religion is a phenomenon of mankind in his teenage years of civilization: the melding and unification of vast cultural differences into cohesive geopolitical views of faith and spirituality that, at this point in the development of mankind, must be outgrown.

in a global world of jet air travel and the internet, true spirituality involves the individualistic path to spirituality, a meldings of multiple faiths and teachings and epochs, a blossoming of spirituality like mankind has never seen before in his existence! ;-)

the problem is, organized religion is now an impediment to that realization of this great spiritual awakening and vision, and must be destroyed, actively fought

because most surely, it will fight for it's continued existence

but it must go the way of the dinosaurs, in order that mankind can grow in his spirituality, past the intolerant decadent anachronistic limitations of the central teachings of the major organized religions

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

The Same Here (none / 0) (#164)
by Mr Badger on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:00:40 PM EST

First, it has been a pleasure. I've been pleasantly surprised at how well this conversation has turned out.

I do understand your point about quasi-members versus "full" members of an organized religious group. I guess I view membership as a more complicated issue than simple adherence to dogma. Most organized religions, regardless of the official paths of power, work in both a top down and bottom up manner. The Pope may hold most of the official power in the Catholic church, but look at American Catholics as a group - the relationship between the power the Pope wields and the manner in which American Catholics act as Catholics is not a simple one.

Here, I guess, is where our key difference comes into play. You would say, "Well, then average American Catholic is not really a Catholic." I would say that the experience of organized religion has always been the experience of negotiation between layperson and clergy as these two forces (both of which are collectives themselves) struggle to define the essence of the divine and the human relationship to it. It is a negotiation that not always civil, logical, or reasonable. But it is never finished. Furthermore, the negotiation is a two way street. Sometimes the power temporarily seems to come from one end of the spectrum or the other, but it is never truly stable. I feel you can be a member of a church and disagree with its leaders in much the same way you can be a member of a political party and disagree with its leaders. Voluntary membership makes for strange bedfellows.

You may be right about the future of organized religion. In fact, in first world religious communities - especially those communities that can afford the technological advantages you mention - much of what you describe is, I think, coming to pass. I also agree that certain religious groups and sects will violently fight this trend. I suspect they will be fighting for a lost cause, the way Christians in the Middle Ages warred over points of doctrine, only to have these doctrinal points evolve, long after both the losers and winners have passed from the Earth, into something the combatants could have never foreseen.

Going out on a speculative limb, I don't think organized religion will ever completely pass away. I don't have any evidence of this. I simply feel that many folks have a need for spiritual contact. I also feel that humans, by their very nature, organize into social groups (for better or worse). Those two elements, in my mind, practically guarantee the survival of some sort of organized religion. That said, I don't think these factors determine a specific "form" of organized religion. Whether the specific belief systems we know today will have a place in that future, I couldn't say.

[ Parent ]

Re: "What seems to exist here (none / 0) (#144)
by NeantHumain on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 01:10:47 AM EST

Why not just smash, ruin, and scatter spirituality too while you're at it? Spirituality is just another conceit of the all too human mind.

I hate my sig.

[ Parent ]
spirituality (none / 0) (#161)
by circletimessquare on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 08:29:11 PM EST

is humility and awe before the vastness of time and space

selfish thinking inflates the human ego into arrogance in the face of the universe, and will quickly be smacked down until humility is learned and respected again

you go on with your bad self, you are but a dust mote in a vast sea of light, whether you know it or not ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Freedom from Atheism (1.44 / 9) (#35)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:13:41 AM EST

Religion should not be forced on a student at a public university. However, neither should atheism. Scholarships to a private university that teaches about theology or religion should not be withheld simply because they are about religion.

Look at it this way:

A) Divide all religions into n segments. Append atheism/secularity onto the end of the list.

B) Restrict all scholarships on the study of Religioni.

C) Increment i If less than n loop to B

Restricting benefits to one religion (after initial step B) is clearly unconstitutional. As is after each step B. The only way Constitutionality can be regained, is if all studies of theism or atheism are prohibited. As, for instance, philosophy can be studied under this constitution (theology without a God) it would appear that it violates Freedom of Religion.

Am I reading you right? (3.00 / 6) (#41)
by richarj on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:18:32 AM EST

Are you equating the study of philosophy as being the atheistic version of theology? Because that is not the case. Philosophy is as different from theology as maths is from logic.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
Lemon Test, Government Aid and Neutrality. (none / 2) (#63)
by Woundweavr on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:12:03 PM EST

Are you equating the study of philosophy as being the atheistic version of theology? Because that is not the case. Philosophy is as different from theology as maths is from logic.

They are certainly different. I was mainly trying to use it for an example. Philosophy offers little to the direct advancement of society, except within secular metaphysics itself. Nor does theology advance society, except within theology, or theist metaphysics.

Basically, to restrict the study of religious matters not only infringes Freedom of Religion, but it also creates a "State Church of Secularism." Seperation of Church and State and the First Amendment require the government to take a neutral position toward Religion, both as a whole and regarding each devotion/sect. Prohibiting scholarships toward religious studies takes the position that religious studies are invalid.

The Lemon Test requires as its second component "...its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion;..."(emphasis mine). It seems clear that this law's primary goal is to inhibit religion.

This was modified in '97 in Agnosti v Felton. It defined the criteria if the government was advancing religion. The second possibility is "defining the recipients of government benefits based on religion." Again this is clearly the case here.

Everson v Board of Education is THE landmark state-seperation case. It requires 'evenhandedness'. In other words you can't give aid to people with the exception of its use for religious purposes. As long as the program is religion-neutral it is unconstitutional to restrict its use to non-religious activity (because that makes the program non-neutral and this unConstitutional).

[ Parent ]

Practice vs. Study of Religion (none / 1) (#97)
by Eater on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 04:14:45 PM EST

While on the whole I agree that this student shouldn't have had the scholarship withdrawn for the theology major, I disagree with a lot of the arugment being put forth regarding that, yours included.
The state was not discouraging his from praciticing his religion by not paying for his study of theology, and the reason for this had nothing to do with "usefulness for society" - it was because the study of theology involves religion. The only reason it may seem like an act that favors atheism over other religions is because there is no university major available that involves the study of atheism. You might as well have said that it descriminates in favor of those that practive Voodoo, assuming there was no Voodoo Studies or whatever at the school in question. If there was such a thing as the atheist equivalent of theology, where students were taught why God doesn't exist, etc., that field of study would also not be covered by teh scholarship.


[ Parent ]
You have no idea what you are talking about. [n/t] (none / 1) (#48)
by kcidx on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:38:30 AM EST

[ Parent ]
It's hard ... (3.00 / 4) (#59)
by conthefol on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:23:40 PM EST

To make a university career of studying atheism.

kuro5hin is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E!!!
[ Parent ]

but not impossible (none / 0) (#168)
by lamarck on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:38:01 AM EST


[ Parent ]
of course, atheism is not a religion (none / 1) (#115)
by davros4269 on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 06:17:15 PM EST

A) Divide all religions into n segments. Append atheism/secularity onto the end of the list.

"atheism is also a religion" is a common thing to say and completely wrong. You disagree, why? - explain please.

Learning about other philosophies is not the same, but, nice try. I don't know about any scholarships that would teach just one philosophy in such a way as to present that philosophy as true, confusionaism for example.

Comparative religion is fine - do you not see the difference? How about extending your "comparision" in the other direction - should we, the public, pay for someone to become a priest? Why or why not?
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

Discrimination against religion? (2.00 / 12) (#38)
by pantropik on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:47:28 AM EST


Nothing better than giving someone a dose of their own medicine, right? Let 'em try to choke down their own dog food for a while. Might give them a fresh perspective on things.

But I doubt it. My taxes are already helping to pay for $1.5 billion in "healthy marriage" education in a society that won't let me get married to start with. My taxes are already helping to pay for the rest of Bush's "faith-based" bullshit (like abstinence education, which not only doesn't work but causes harm). There are plenty of fabulously wealthy religious groups/schools who would probably be more than happy to pay for their indoctrination.

Religion IS different . (2.28 / 7) (#44)
by Highlander on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:05:23 AM EST

Religion is considered different because that is what it is. It is different. It is not usually a preparation for a profession but has in the past been the justification for a lot of bloodshed. It has a dimension almost political. After all you cannot study democratism or republicanism either. You can study politics, but only if you study it from a neutralish perspective.

However I also can see an argument for your position: If studying religion would prepare you to work as a preacher or something, then it should count as a preparation for a profession just like any other study.

You could turn this around and change the rules for handing out scholarships so that it says you have to study something where there is at least a 5% chance that you get employed in a profession because of your studying.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

Exactly the point. (none / 1) (#76)
by regeya on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 07:12:15 PM EST

However I also can see an argument for your position: If studying religion would prepare you to work as a preacher or something, then it should count as a preparation for a profession just like any other study.


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

What discrimination? (2.71 / 14) (#46)
by megid on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:27:52 AM EST

All that was denied to this student was being *sponsored* by the government, whose fucking directive is to *keep out* of all religious matters!

If he wants to study faith, fine. Just dont force me, the taxpayer, to pay him for that. I would even go farther and allow scholarships which, say, are *only* applicable to e.g. arts. I can see nothing wrong with that.

The state has not to sponsor any religious activities. Period.

"think first, write second, speak third."

Other Christian institutions? (2.87 / 8) (#55)
by InigoMontoya on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:22:17 PM EST

My question/concern/whatever is bigger than this. I went to a Christian college which prided itself not just on its "religious" courses, but on the fact that it brought religion into every course, that every instructor was not only an expert in his/her field but also was a good Christian (whatever that means) and thus one would get a "Christian" perspective (whatever that means) on the subject matter, whether that be psych, physics, or film. It is expected that instruction in these subjects, then, will not only impact one's knowledge of a given field, but also make one's Christian life better.

Granted, this college is in a state (Michigan) that has no prohibition on funding devotional theology with state money (as WA has), but the school still accepts state scholarships and FAFSA aid, among other forms of financial aid. If Michigan were to pass a law similar to Washington's, wouldn't every one of these classes count as a class in "devotional theology" in a way; in other words, what defines "devotional theology"?

Is it one's future goals? If so, could my studying for a degree in, say, music, be grounds for me not to get state funding because I intend to be a musician in the Christian music industry*, or an organist at a church? This opens many cans o' worms; after all, isn't the state's funding of the education of any Christian essentially a subsidy of Christianity, particularly if they intend to go into a "Christian" flavor of their field? Also, I've changed what I wanted to do with my life about seven times through four years of college, one year of grad school, and now half a year of seminary. Do I have to resubmit my plans to the Feds every time? Clearly, this is an inadequate criterion.

Is it the individual "theology" courses themselves? If so, what happens to the person who doesn't want to be a pastor or anything but just wants to take a few courses in religion because it interests him/her? What happens when your school - like mine - requires courses in theology or the Bible in order to graduate? This would seem like a sensible solution to me - no state sponsorship of theology classes - but it would also cause a bureaucratic/administrative nightmare, because who's going to keep track, especially when federal aid or state scholarships are usually handed out in just a general "per-semester-enrollment" amount? Also, what would happen to colleges, like my alma mater, which infuse religion, with a devotional end in mind, into every one of their classes? Would anyone at such a college be without state funding?

Is it some kind of specific "pre-seminary" program? Wouldn't that just cause more schools to drop those programs in favor of more "unofficial" pre-seminary education (i.e. advisors telling you what you would need to get into seminary, but not saying it's a program other than a general theology degree). This wouldn't escape the original problem - that WA residents don't want to subsidize clerical training - just bypass it.

There aren't any easy answers here for WA lawmakers or students; I think the law needs to be more clear on the matter (if it isn't so already, none of the major newsbots have gone into the nuts and bolts of the WA law) if it's going to be effective. I personally think it shouldn't be on the books because, as I've shown, definition and/or enforcement of "devotional theology" would be so difficult as to be prohibitory, but that wouldn't make things easier for those who don't want to subsidize religion.


*If you listen to most Christian "music," it becomes abundantly clear that many Christian musicians don't know much about making good music, or excellent musical technique; however, let's just leave the general point as is, no?

This signature is self-referential.

Wow, Scalia compared Rehnquist to the French! (2.53 / 13) (#56)
by lamont116 on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 02:43:08 PM EST

See pages 9-10 of the slip opinion. He must have learned this powerful rhetorical technique from Dick Cheney when they were duck-hunting.

-1, fails to present and tear down other side (2.40 / 10) (#57)
by rtmyers on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:00:24 PM EST

It's impossible to understand this very interesting case without knowing what the majority decided, as another poster already mentioned. I know it's Op-Ed, so what I'd really like to see is you presenting the majority's thinking, then telling us why you think it's wrong.

Remember also that Washington State has its own constitution, which seems like it should be central to this case, but you never even mentioned that.

Speaking of which, what is the relationship between the US Constitution and state constitutions? This is very OT, but I noticed the latest draft of the proposed anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment says that state constitutions cannot be construed in a way such as to confer the benefits of marriage on gays. How can a US constitutional amendment force a particular interpretation on a state constitution when the state constitution clearly says something else, like Massachusetts' constitution does?

A Couple of Things (none / 1) (#58)
by dcm266 on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 03:21:14 PM EST

1) The 14th Ammendment applies the restrictions contained in the Bill of Rights to the individual state governments, and thus the 1st Ammendment is made to apply to the states. Therefore, the restrictions inherent in the Constitution override any article in the state constitution. No party questioned this, so I didn't think it needed to be mentioned.

2) I was going to revise this, post a link to the oral arguments, and some other stuff, but it was moved to vote prior to my ability to do so.


[ Parent ]

Utterly wrong (none / 0) (#105)
by dn on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 10:57:07 PM EST

Try, you know, actually reading the laws some time.
The 14th Ammendment applies the restrictions contained in the Bill of Rights to the individual state governments, and thus the 1st Ammendment is made to apply to the states.
Firstly, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from taking certain actions. It creates no rights; it offers no protections. The very purpose of the religion clause was to allow early states to continue their official churches.

Secondly, the Fourteenth Amendment does no such thing. The rights conveyed by the Bill of Rights can only be affected by subsequent amendments, never by state law. What the Fourteenth does is make a state's laws apply equally to everybody in that state. A state is not allowed to distinguish between people on criteria that are patently irrelevant to the matter at hand. For example, a state cannot disenfranchise blacks, since skin color has no necessary correlation with decision competence. (But they can, however, prohibit blind people from driving cars, because blindness has a necessary and provable correlation with driving competence.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rewriting of the Constitution. If this had been an actual republic, we would not have had this conversation.

    I ♥

[ Parent ]

For Those Who (none / 0) (#116)
by dcm266 on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 08:16:51 PM EST

For those who have spent more than 15 minutes studying constitutional law and analyzing cases, it is common knowledge that the protections of the 1st Amendment is applied to the states by the 14th Amendment. If this were not the case, there could be a church sponsored by each state in the union, and the Supreme Court has told us time and time again that this cannot happen. I don't know where you get your rediculous ideas from, but perhaps you should get to know a few lawyers or law professors. They may be helpful, and will allow you to avoid posting misinformation in the future.


[ Parent ]

No, he's right (none / 1) (#120)
by kmcrober on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 12:09:13 AM EST

The 14th Amendment was held in a serious of Supreme Court cases to apply all of the federal Constitutional rights against state governments.  It's called the doctrine of incorporation, and it was the precious baby of the Warren Court.  It's complex, but the core of the doctrine is that fundamental Constitutional rights enforceable against the federal government are expanded to be enforceable against the states.  1st Amendment restrictions against the entanglement of church and state are certainly incorporated.

[ Parent ]
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: (none / 2) (#65)
by mcc on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:16:11 PM EST

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

By entering into the union of the United States, the individual states have agreed to be subject to the rules of the constitution. They are not subject to the federal government except in those ways which the constitution grants the federal government power over the state governments. The constitution, however, supercedes the state constitutions due to the nature of the states' inclusion in the union. This goes the same for the constitution's amendments as its original text.

[ Parent ]
Why is this discrimination. (2.37 / 8) (#69)
by kaboom108 on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 05:47:38 PM EST

The people of Washington have set aside funds for scholarships. Their reasoning for doing this (or doing it by proxy via elected officials) is their own, but I'd imagine it's because they want the funds to improve their state. Many states offer scholarships to try to keep college-bound students in the state, and make it easier for it's citizens to go to college. It seems to me the citizens of Washington decided they want the government to support business-related majors (which go on to contribute to their community) and pure academic majors (who contribute to their schools and their schools academic reputation). They've also decided they don't want to subsidize religous majors (students who major in the social science form of religous study do not seem to be affected). Churches are tax-exempt anyway, and church donations are tax-deductible. I suggest the local churches sponsor a scholarship, or convince enough of the voters it is in their interest to broaden the scholarship eligibility.

Rule of precedents (none / 1) (#72)
by Valdrax on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 06:11:56 PM EST

They've also decided they don't want to subsidize religous majors (students who major in the social science form of religous study do not seem to be affected).

Actually, I'd be curious to know what their actual public opinion is on the matter since it doesn't matter a damn anyway.  The 1st and 14th Amendments are the basis of allowing the states to deny funding to religious phenomena.  (The 1st paragraph of the 14th keeps states from passing laws infringing on civil liberties; the federal seperation of church and state is considered to be one of these liberties.)

The current citizens of Washington had absolutely no input into this decision -- only the opinions of the voting states at the time of the passage of the 1st and 14th Amendments did.  

Of course, your entire argument that it isn't discrimination because the people of Washington wanted it that way is a total red herring.  The people of the South wanted Jim Crow laws and segregation in the period between the Civil War and Desegretation, but that had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it was discrimination.

[ Parent ]

Scholarships for all people to arrange flowers (2.83 / 6) (#78)
by livus on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 07:26:49 PM EST

is what you'll be advocating next.

Seriously, last time I looked the whole point of a scholarship was to finance a select group of people to do what you want them to do.

This is why scholarships are only given to some people (basis of merit, need, or similar, i.e they are actually likely to learn something)  and they are only allowed to study some things (usually things that the community actually would benefit from its members knowing) in some places.

In other words, no you can not give your 30k a year to Mrs Robinson down the road so she can teach you about flower arranging and lesbian santeria. If you want to learn that, you can damn well go earn your own money to pay for it, or else you're welcome to find a non state sponsored scholarship which actually wants you to study this.

Whining thatnot getting free handouts to study crap = discrimination, is just disingenous. It's not your god-given right.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Rediculous (1.00 / 4) (#81)
by dcm266 on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:29:56 PM EST

Read the Constitution and my other posts before making a comment like this. Religion is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and it cannot be compared with floral arrangement or any other stupid comparison you may see fit to come up with. We're dealing with statutes that specifically deny rights to people on the basis of their religious interests, which are protected in the Constitution. You cannot make an analogy to other academic subjects, as it is not the same.


[ Parent ]

Is receiving a scholarship a right? n/t (none / 3) (#83)
by Bill Melater on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:49:55 PM EST

[ Parent ]
A scholarship is not a "right". -nt- (3.00 / 5) (#84)
by ajdecon on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 10:50:20 PM EST

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
You are confusing the issue, I think. (none / 2) (#90)
by valar on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 02:19:45 AM EST

They are being descriminated against on the basis of religious belief. It isn't as if we was denied the scholarship because of his particular faith. The scholarship was denied because the government shouldn't fund religion _at all_. Your complaint would be valid, had they, say, given the scholarship to a student who wished to study why all relgion is wrong, but denied it to one who believed a certain religion was correct. Or if they said, that you can get the scholarship to study christianity, but you can't use it to study islam. Basically, the state is saying that they don't want to provide scholarships for religious studies, period.

[ Parent ]
Not Quite (1.00 / 7) (#93)
by dcm266 on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 01:28:27 PM EST

The scholarship was denied because he wants to study devotional theology. I'm pretty sure that someone who wanted to study or disprove theology would be given the scholarship.

Even if that is not the case, the fact remains that rather than being neutral towards religion, the government is favoring secularism. There's no reason the government shouldn't fund his scholarship. They're simply telling people that you can study anything you want, but if you study devotional theology, we won't support you. This has a detrimental effect on the study of devotional theology.


[ Parent ]

Very shaky analysis (none / 2) (#119)
by kmcrober on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 11:57:29 PM EST

The distinction you draw between devotional theology and academic religious studies doesn't matter in this instance.  The academic study of religion is not the practice of religion, especially in a Constitutional context.  You're saying that the state funds A, the study of religion academically, so under equal protection and free exercise, it must also fund B, the exercise and preaching of religion.  This is a faulty analysis.  B is held to a much stricter standard of government behavior; the state can't (probably) be forbidden to subsidize religion, but the basic premise of separation of church and state certainly gives it a solid foundation to not be held financially responsible for supporting religion.

(Justice Scalia's pious bleating aside, there is no serious modern Constitutional claim that the separation of church and state refers to the state not picking favorites among Christian denominations; it clearly has come to mean, as it probably did from the beginning, that the state is barred from becoming entwined with religion in general.)

Your argument would hold more water if not funding B, the active exercise of religion, were equivalent to suppressing the practice of religion.  It is not.  It is a well-settled Constitutional point that the state is not required to fund Constitutionally permissible activity; subject to certain very limited exceptions that don't apply here, just because you CAN do something doesn't mean the state has to foot the bill.

For instance, try to get the state to foot the bill for an elective abortion, or the markers to make your protest signs.  The state is free to choose to support or not support constitutionally permissible activities as it sees fit; it's a majoritarian and democratic process.  Not a very theocratic one, though, thank God.  

[ Parent ]

A Few Basic Points (none / 1) (#121)
by dcm266 on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 12:17:44 AM EST

While it may be easy to say that simply not allowing the scholarship for devotional theology students isn't an impairment, this argument is flawed at its core. All else being the same, one choosing between devotional theology and another subject, the scholarship and financial consideration will coerce and pressure one into accepting the non-religious activity. This is an addition to the psychological effect of the state's actions.

What is happening is quite simple. Those interested in devotional theology are being denied the benefit of a public good that is available to everyone else. A benefit given to non-religious study and not to religious study is similar relatively to a tax being placed on religious study and not on other subjects.

As for your statements on the separation between church and state, this is actually a legitimate debate, and you cannot simply dismiss it by saying there is no serious modern constitutional claim.


[ Parent ]

Your basic point is very simple: (none / 0) (#143)
by kmcrober on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 12:14:17 AM EST

Funding academic religious studies but not devotional theology is an equal protection violation because it harms those devotional students.  You argue that this harm is relative; supporting non-devotional students hurts devotional students because they lose relatively.  A prerequisite to this point is the assumption that public funding is a zero-sum game, which is not necessarily true.  But even if it is, you're overlooking the core constitutional claims.

It's important - even critical - that the state not become entangled in religion.  That is what the state constitution in question attempts to do, by not disbursing public monies to doctrinal students.  As a taxpayer, my tax contributions are apportioned to students of a wide variety of academic disciplines, and I and the rest of the state benefit from their education.  The same is NOT true of doctrinal students; someone trained to expound one denomination's dogma is not entitled to funding by a society that does not share that dogma.  It would be an establishment violation to require citizens, who cannot be presumed to have any religion in particular, to fund doctrinal education.  The state is perfectly within its rights to proscribe this behavior.

This would be true to an extent even if devotional students were being harmed.  They aren't.  They're perfectly free to pursue their studies.  The state simply isn't levying its citizens to pay for it.  Your point could be just as well extended to students of Scientology; certainly they're entitled to public aid?  After all, without scholarships, a student is more likely to study psychology than the teachings of L. Ron.  

As for your statements on the separation between church and state, this is actually a legitimate debate, and you cannot simply dismiss it by saying there is no serious modern constitutional claim.  

It is not a legitimate debate, and I can and do dismiss it.  There is no serious and credible claim in modern Constitutional scholarship or law that the separation of church and state applies only between flavors of Christianity.  Period.  There is no serious or legitimate claim that the state is free to adopt, establish, and nourish Christianity at the expense of other religions so long as it doesn't pick one particular denomination of Christianity.  Period.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps you forget... (none / 0) (#127)
by divinus on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 10:26:04 AM EST

That the United States IS a secular government, that DOES favour secularism.

[ Parent ]
no, it is you who is ridiculous (2.75 / 4) (#103)
by livus on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 09:41:48 PM EST

reciept of a scholarship is not a right.

All citizens in the US are supposed to enjoy the same rights and freedoms. If scholarships were covered by that, your whole nation would be on a sort of welfare.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

You Miss the Point (none / 0) (#114)
by dcm266 on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 06:02:40 PM EST

The point once again has nothing to do whether or not receiving a scholarship is a right. The point in question is whether this statute serves as a form of discrimination against religion, when prior legal precedent states that legislation can neither advance nor hinder religion. An article in a state constitution that forbids scholarships only to those interested in devotional theology clearly hinders religion.

This is a case in which the state is basically saying that any job that doesn't involve religion is acceptable, and all jobs involving religion are not. From a career training point, this is the message. A degree in devotional theology prepares students to become priests, ministers, and the like. In this case, the state allows everything that isn't religion, thus actively discriminating against religion. The fact that a scholarship is not a right is irrelevant. It's a simple piece of rhetoric that some think is clever, but that has nothing to do with the argument in question, which focuses on the tone of the restriction against devotional theology.


[ Parent ]

not funded != unacceptable (none / 1) (#117)
by livus on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 09:59:42 PM EST

no, they are not sayingit is unacceptable; they are saying they don't want to fund it.

If it was unacceptable they would ban it.

I'm still of the opinion that you're unfamiliar with the realities of educational funding practices.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Must we do this? (none / 2) (#122)
by dcm266 on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 12:39:13 AM EST

Not funded means that the given endeavor is an unacceptable use of state funds, as in, "It is not acceptable to use your scholarship to pay for a degree in devotional theology." This seems pretty clear.


[ Parent ]

Three questions. (none / 0) (#134)
by Gluke on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 04:08:49 PM EST

Do you know for a fact--which has more money, the church or the state of Washington? If yes, provide references. Do you think it would only be fair if someone wanted to use a church-issued grant to study, say, linguistics and cognitive science, and the church refused to let him do that? Do you think the previous two questions have any relevance whatsoever to the issue at hand?

[ Parent ]
More complicated then that (none / 0) (#149)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 11:08:16 AM EST

Church's are private institutions which are composed of individuals who CHOSE to associated themselves with it. It draws it's funding entirely from VOLUNTARY contributions by individuals. As such it has the right to exclude any individuals it wants from it's activities (right of association) and set any sort of thresholds or conditions it wants on the grants it gives.

States are public institution which exerts jurisdiction over all individuals who fall within thier territorial bounderies. There is nothing voluntary about association with a state, association is COMPULSORY. They draw thier funding from taxes levied against all individuals within thier bounds. Payment of these taxes is COMPULSORY, as well. As such, states are obligated to provide equal protections for all individuals which are subject to thier authority. They may not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, gender, etc.

In this case the state has a public resource which it has made generaly available to everyone who qualifies academicly but it selectively chooses to disqualify only those individuals who study theology. Even if, for the sake of arguement,  we were to concede that theology is not a legitimate course of academic study the state would still be engaged in discrimination. Because the individual in question ALREADY QUALIFIED for the scholarship with his Bussiness Administration major. The scholarship is being revoked because the individual is choosing to study theology IN ADDITION to bussiness administration. In this case the scholarship is not being used to study theology, it is being used to study bussiness administration... the study of theology is an outside activity that the student is able to pursue at no additional cost to the state.

The situation would be exactly the same as an individual who was getting a state scholarship to study bussiness administration and then had the scholarship revoked simply because he chose to attend services at the campus chapel or became a member of the campus democrats. Such action is discriminatory against the student and the state is not allowed to deny that individual equal protection simply because they choose to pursue other activities in addition to thier qualifying course of study.

[ Parent ]

Answers (none / 0) (#151)
by dcm266 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 12:09:38 PM EST

1) Not sure, and it would depend on which church you are referring to, since there are so many sects of religions. 2)Yes, it's fair. The church is a private institution and may do what it wishes with its funds. 3) Not really, because states and Congress must act in a way that neither advances nor inhibits religion. A church is almost by definition going to use its funds to enhance itself, thus enhancing a sect of religion. The public versus private sector in most cases can't be effectively compared, because the former is responsible for equitable treatment, and the latter is responsible for self-promotion and advancement. Good questions, though. Cheers. -dcm266

[ Parent ]
well, it IS an unacceptable use of state funds (none / 0) (#135)
by livus on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 04:08:59 PM EST

because states are meant to be secular.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Except that (none / 0) (#148)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 10:32:37 AM EST

IF the person had been studying flower arranging he WOULD have been given the scholarship.

If it were a specific academic scholarship (i.e. physics, political science, etc) you would be right. However it was a GENERAL scholarship awarded to study ANY academic subject at an acredited institution. Since the acredited institution offered a theology major (as many do) as part of it's curriculum one can't really argue that it's not a legitimate academic field of study.

Yet it's even worse then that. Prehaps you missed the fact that the individual in question was a DOUBLE MAJOR. He was studying Bussiness Administration AND theology. Had he been studying Bussiness Administration alone he would have had no problem with the scholarship. Had he added ANY OTHER major to his Bussiness Administration major he would have had no problem with the scholarship. It was only because his second major was Theology that his scholarship was revoked.

It seems pretty clear to me that this law runs afoul of the 14th ammendment and possible the 1st. At the very least, if you qualify to use a public resource (i.e. a scholarship) you can not be disqualified because you choose to engage in some other perfectly legal activity (divinity study) in OUTSIDE of that which qualified you for the resource.

[ Parent ]

Dumb Question (2.50 / 4) (#79)
by the on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 08:06:21 PM EST

What is "devotional theology"? I know what the study of Comparitive Religion is, say, but I don't think that's the same as Devotional Theology.

The Definite Article
School for priests, ministers (none / 2) (#96)
by ShadowNode on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 03:14:02 PM EST

Or whatever you want to call them.

[ Parent ]
Theology as good preparation for real life (2.28 / 7) (#86)
by JayGarner on Fri Mar 26, 2004 at 11:24:34 PM EST

99% of jobs are about nothing, and involve people doing stuff of no consequence, and since theology is the study of nothing, it too has its place, especially as the US tilts further and further toward theocracy.

-1, inane (2.16 / 6) (#99)
by trhurler on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 07:03:05 PM EST

First of all, the government is restricted from discriminating against a particular religion - not against religion in general. BUT, it is also restricted from acting to favor a particular religion, and that's what the Supreme Court did right here - prevented government from favoring Christianity.

This kid wasn't taking "religious studies," wherein there is some attempt to study all religious beliefs without adopting or favoring any of them. He wanted specific religious schooling(nonbelievers would say "indoctrination,") on the public dime, and the Constitution forbids it. It is that simple, case closed.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Did you read the article (none / 2) (#100)
by dcm266 on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 08:28:41 PM EST

I said specifically that he was studying pastoral ministry, a devotional theology degree. That's precisely the point. The free exercise clause protects all religion in general, and that's where the case lies.


[ Parent ]

No (3.00 / 6) (#102)
by trhurler on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 09:36:34 PM EST

The free exercise clause is like the first amendment in general - it gives you the right to believe and practice. It does not give you the right to public funding for that purpose.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Yup, I agree (none / 1) (#145)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Mar 30, 2004 at 10:08:07 AM EST

I would argue that it was the 14th that this law might abridge.

Everyone who wants to use this public resource can, except theology students. It's like putting up a sign saying "No Priests Allowed" at a public park.

[ Parent ]

Hrm. (none / 0) (#167)
by Wildfire Darkstar on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 07:01:22 PM EST

The problem is that the government is held responsible for the use of public money. Perhaps it's more useful to look at a less divisive subject than religion: say that government money was being funneled into an offshore corporation with known ties to some sort of international terrorist organization like al Qaeda? Yes, it's at least once-removed, so it's not like U.S. government money would going directly into the hands of said organization, but it's likely to end up at the same end-point nonetheless.

Not, of course, to equate a kid who wants to enter the ministry to a terrorist, mind you, just to illustrate a point about how there's a whole lot of concerns to be weighed in how public funds are used. And I'm not sure I see an alternate way around this situation that would be any less fraught with potential conflicts.

-- Sean Daugherty "I have walked in Eternity -- and Eternity weeps."
[ Parent ]

why do you keep suggesting (none / 2) (#104)
by livus on Sat Mar 27, 2004 at 09:50:14 PM EST

that everyone who disagrees with you didn't read the article?

If you think your argument is so great and wonderful that as soon as we read it we should have fallen at your feet in agreement, well, I have some sad news for you.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I Don't (none / 3) (#113)
by dcm266 on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 04:33:55 PM EST

Try reading a in a bit more detail yourself. He made one comment which seemed to clearly suggest that he didn't read the article. That or he felt the need to uselessly repeat information that had been gone over about 20 times.


[ Parent ]

no, you are clearly wrong (none / 2) (#124)
by boxed on Mon Mar 29, 2004 at 08:27:08 AM EST

The state has no obligation to give money for teaching people for religious propaganda purposes. You may bitch all you want but that IS the point of priests.

[ Parent ]
Damn, you're dumb (none / 2) (#165)
by rho on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 03:24:04 PM EST

Government can't discriminate against religion, you dumb fuck. To say otherwise indicates you're just a moron bigot. In order for your airheaded statement to be true, it would be legal for a government to pass a law where church leaders would be ineligible to vote. (You'd probably support it, too, on the basis that "allowing preachers to vote means that they are participating in government, which means that government is supporting religion, OMGWTF!!!!1")

Government's only role in the case of religion is to prevent the establishment of religion, and to protect the free exercise thereof. It can't discriminate against religion any more than it can discriminate against redheads, you dickless wonder.

The point is that religious study was explicitly restricted by law, not that the boy was going to study to be a minister. There is a pool of public funds available for scholarships. Those scholarships are available for use in any major except religion. That's discrimination. The Justices that compared this to laws that used public monies to train ministers is bogus. It's comparing a law that specifically promotes religion (only ministers need apply), and one that discriminates (everybody except ministers can apply). The only way they'd be the same would be if the WA law said that the scholarship was restricted to religious studies. And it wasn't. It was the complete opposite. As in apples and oranges. You gormless blowhard.

Did you follow it this time? Doubt it.

"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

And You're Not Thinking This Through.... (none / 0) (#166)
by Wildfire Darkstar on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 06:53:10 PM EST

Nowhere does the article suggest that the Washington State constitution "explicitly restricted by law" religious study. Regardless of whether or not you think the section in question is valid or not, the issue is not the state government telling a kid what he can and cannot study, it's an issue of allocation of funds. In other words, and has long been established in U.S. law and legal precedent, the government can neither directly intervene in religious affairs (say, by opening a state-maintained seminary), nor attempt to otherwise circumvent this restriction through the use of third party organizations. As interpreted by the state of Washington, that means not setting up a fund of state money that you know is going to be immediately funneled towards a religious institution. The restriction on using state scholarship money for religious education here is fairly obviously an attempt to avoid a potentially dangerous conflict of interest.

For better or for worse, there is a distinction between religion and other fields of endeavor in United States law, going all the way back to the Constitution itself. The idea that public money can't go into religious institutions, even (and perhaps especially) in a roundabout way, has been established for decades. Is it a perfect solution? Maybe not. But there's not really much of an alternative unless you want to completely gut the establishment clause and two centuries of accumulated judicial interpretation thereof.

-- Sean Daugherty "I have walked in Eternity -- and Eternity weeps."
[ Parent ]

The Scalia test (1.16 / 6) (#106)
by nictamer on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 05:11:00 AM EST

If Scalia dissented, then it means the USSC did the right thing. Scalia is evil, Scalia is wrong, unless you live in an alternate reality such as that of "The Man in the High Castle", where the Axis won WWII.

Proof? Scalia is the guy who basically said "I have nothing against homosexuals, I  just want them all in jail." And he tried to use his power to achieve this.
Religion is for sheep.

Well, Gee Davey! (none / 2) (#110)
by the hermit on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 11:06:34 AM EST

Gee Davey, you shouldn't have done that... Your mom won't be too happy about it...


Sorry for the bad pun, I just couldn't help it...

The wrong issue (none / 2) (#118)
by A synx on Sun Mar 28, 2004 at 10:00:39 PM EST

It's not discrimination against religion that is the problem. The problem is putting one religion above another. Religious discrimination is forcing someone to go to a Christian church, more than it is not allowing someone to build a Christian church. What is happening here is that the scholarship itself is not given to devotional theology. You couldn't call it discrimination when an Electrical Engineer couldn't get a Journalism scholarship. There's nothing in the constitution that says you can't throw money at devotional theologists, according to your source. Instead it says that that specific scholarship does not apply to devotional theology. On a scholarship to scholarship basis, the benefactors have every right to decide what kind of education they are going to be paying for.

Re: The wrong issue (none / 0) (#159)
by RadiantMatrix on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 03:10:42 PM EST

You couldn't call it discrimination when an Electrical Engineer couldn't get a Journalism scholarship. There's nothing in the constitution that says you can't throw money at devotional theologists, according to your source. Instead it says that that specific scholarship does not apply to devotional theology.

The thing is, the scholarship in question is to be used at the discretion of the student.  In effect, the Promise Scholarship rules are saying "you can apply this to any major except religious studies".  Added to this is the fact that this exclusion is made under a law (not just the rules of the scholarship), and that the benefactors are the taxpayers.

I don't like spam - Parent ]

Scholarships for Theology Students | 171 comments (147 topical, 24 editorial, 1 hidden)
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